Ukraine’s security service tracking down the spies helping Russia’s invasion

From the opposite course, a van swerves, and two males in fight fatigues and face coverings leap out. The man in black drops to the bottom, as if by intuition. The officers — from Ukraine’s safety service, or SBU — pat him down and retrieve their prized proof: His cell phone.

In japanese Ukraine, the thuds of duelling Russian and Ukrainian artillery are a near-constant presence. Much of the Russian shelling is indiscriminate, however some is geared toward high-value targets like army encampments, arms depots, or the SBU’s personal headquarters in Kramatorsk, which was partially destroyed within the opening weeks of the conflict.

The SBU says Russian forces rely closely on collaborators just like the alleged spy CNN noticed being arrested in Sloviansk this weekend to pinpoint their targets and consider the success of their hits.

When confronted by an SBU investigator on the scene, the suspect shortly admits to speaking with the enemy.

“What did he ask you for?” asks the investigator.

“Coordinates, movements and so on,” the suspect says, head downcast. “The locations of the hits. That sort of thing. The situation in general, and so on.”

“Did you understand why he needed the coordinates?”

“Yes, I understand. I realize.”

The SBU right here say they’re finishing up stings like this a few times a day. This man has been underneath investigation for simply 4 days.

Some of the suspects are basic infiltrators: Russian residents, delivered to the Donbas area firstly of the conflict, who reside among the many inhabitants. Others are political sympathizers. But the person main at the moment’s sting, who we’re calling Serhiy, says most individuals spy for cash.

“There are fewer and fewer ideological traitors,” he says. “Even those who supported the aggression of the Russian federation in 2014 in the Donbas, during the creation of the so-called DPR and LPR [Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics] — when they saw what happened with Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Bucha and dozens and hundreds of other localities, they started to change their world view about Russia.”

The suspect this weekend tells the investigator that he was provided simply 500 hryvnia, or round 17 {dollars}, in change for concentrating on info. He says he was recruited by means of the messaging app Telegram by somebody figuring out himself as “Nikolai.”

The headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in Kramatorsk, which was hit but a Russian strike in March.

The investigator reads out their exchanges as SBU brokers stand with pistols unholstered.

“You did a good job yesterday,” wrote Nikolai. “The same information is needed today. Photos, videos, geo-data of the military on the CNIL [a military encampment]. How long does it take to get the information?”

“Got it, got it,” the suspect replied. “I’ll text you back. One and a half to two hours.”

“Ok, waiting,” Nikolai replied. “Be careful. Pay attention to the cameras so they don’t see you. Take photos and videos secretly.”

The investigator explains to the suspect that they are seizing his cellphone.

“Who do I call to inform about your detention?” the investigator asks.

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“My mother,” the suspect says.

“Do you remember the number?”

“There’s a number in the phone.”

With that, the person is led to the SBU’s unmarked automobile, and pushed away. Serhiy says he can be transferred west, to Dnipro, the place he’ll face trial. If it’s confirmed that his spying led to loss of life or “severe consequences,” a conviction might ship him to jail for the remainder of his life, Serhiy says.

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“These missiles come at the coordinates which are transmitted by such criminals,” he tells us again at headquarters. “People die because of these missiles. Our soldiers are killed, and civilians are killed.”

He says he tries to maintain his anger at bay, however it’s laborious to not take the betrayals personally.

“Every time I arrest someone like him, I know one thing: I’m from here myself. My loved ones, all my relatives, are from Lyman” — a close-by city that has been underneath heavy Russian bombardment for weeks — he says.

“At the moment, they have no place to live, they have nothing. They have nowhere to come back to. I remember it every time. I remember the Kramatorsk railway station every time,” he says, referring to a Russian airstrike in April that killed at the very least 50 individuals.

“We were picking people up, piece by piece.”

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